Ozarks Life: Jim Oxley’s unique set-up at Mtn. Grove farmers market

A month shy of his 93rd birthday, and Mr. Oxley doesn’t take it easy. You can find him three days a week at the farmers market.
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 8:32 AM CDT
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MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. (KY3) - For many, retirement is a way to sit back, take it easy, and take up a hobby.

And sometimes that hobby becomes a great way to live an Ozarks Life.

In Mountain Grove, high on top of Ninth Street, sits a ghost. But the old Brown Shoe Company’s closure three decades ago doesn’t haunt Jim Oxley.

This 92-year-old former foreman of the factory can be found at the farmers market three days a week.

“Sometimes their mouth drops open,” Oxley says about his set-up, “you do that?’ Well, I do.”

Right on the square, in between the kettle corn and the vegetables are Jim’s collection of tailor-made dresses.

“See the ruffles, that’s the hardest part,” Oxley said who makes his own patterns.”

A month shy of his 93rd birthday, and Mr. Oxley doesn’t take it easy. If he’s not walking three miles a day, or mowing, he’ll be sewing.

“It gives me something to do, I can’t sit and twiddle my thumbs,” Mr. Oxley said.

For Jim Oxley this is the perfect combination, combining his skills from the factory as a sample cutter with his wife’s passion of sewing.

“I enjoy doing it because I feel like her spirit is there with me,” Mr. Oxley said fighting back the tears.

Hazel passed away in 2010. And few, if any of us, would be as lucky to have someone talk about us the way Jim gushes about his Hazel.

“She was a sweetest person I ever knew.”

Jim’s love hasn’t changed since the first time he saw her in the late 1940′s. He admits he was too shy to talk to her when her family visited his.

“I was putting a roof on the porch,” Oxley said, “and the seat of my pants were out. I stayed on the roof and didn’t come down. After that, I found a way to get in contact with her and asked her to go on a date.”

They married in 1949 and became quite the team especially after the Brown Shoe Company closed.

“I helped my wife eight to ten years before she passed away,” Mr. Oxley said. “I cut out the parts. She done the top half and I made the skirt. The hardest thing was putting them together.”

For the last 11-years, Mr. Oxley has had to sew those two pieces together by himself. With love, a smile, and no doubt a tear in each stitch.

“And like I say, I just feel like she’s close to me (when I sew),” Mr. Oxley said.

You can find Jim Oxley on the square in Mountain Grove at the farmer’s market on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.

He’ll also be one of the vendors at the city’s bicentennial celebration, The Mountain Grove Heritage Festival, on August 14th.

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